Watermelon Rind Pickle

Ever wondered what to do with the rind left over from melons? They take so long to breakdown in the compost, even the chickens leave them alone after the flesh has been pecked off.  I found this great recipe for pickled watermelon rind so thought I’d give it a go. It’s not paleo, as it contains sugar, so I won’t be eating it but Tom might like it.

The process is quite drawn out, but because there was only a little bit to do each day, it was actually easier than making pickles in one big batch from start to finish.

Ingredients

Rind of a water melon, flesh and dark skin removed

3 ltrs water plus 3 cups for the syrup

1 cup of salt

5 cups of raw sugar

3 cups of white vinegar

1 Tbsp of cloves

6 sticks of cinnamon

1 Tbsp allspice berries

1 thinly sliced lemon

Day 1- peel the watermelon rind and cut into 1/2 to 1 inch squares. I sliced my watermelon she’ll into 1 inch strips, which made it easy to strip of the skin and the flesh with a vegetable pearler, took about half an hour.

Make a brine with the salt and water and soak the rinds overnight in the fridge.

Day 2- drain and rinse the rinds. Put in a large pan with just enough water to cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently until the rinds are fork soft, about 15 mins. In another pan pan mix the remaining ingredients, except the lemon, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over the rinds and when cool, add the lemon slices and put back in the fridge overnight.

Simmering the rinds

 

Day 3 – pour all the ingredients into a pan and simmer for about an hour until the rinds are translucent and the syrup thick. Pack the rinds into sterilised jars and cover with the syrup.  I turn the jars upside down and leave for 24 hours (British method) but you can also use the water bath canning method to sterilise the jars for 15 minutes (American method)

Watermelon Rind Pickle

I did have a sneaky taste, and it’s lovely, the rinds have the texture of ripe pears in a tangy syrup. The combination of spices make this smell and taste quite festive, and I imagine it will taste great with the cold meats and cheeses we usually eat around Christmas – if it lasts that long!

 

Growing things in the desert – veggies

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I love winter in Abu Dhabi, the days are warm and sunny and the evenings cool, enough to need a sweater ( for me, at least -Tom is still in short sleeved T shirts).

But what I love most about winter is that we can grow our own food, without any chemicals. We have raised beds, pots and vegetables growing under trees. We have lots of trees!

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These are 3 of our raised beds, and we are experimenting. Our neighbour claims that the soil here ( um, what soil?) is really good for growing vegetables, all it needs is some natural fertiliser now and again. So we have one bed that is just local soil with the addition of farmyard ( goat) manure. We have another bed which is filled with our homemade compost mixed with some locally bought compost. We’ve mulched around the plants to retain moisture in this bed.  We’ve planted the same plants (almost) in each bed so that we can compare. and so far the local bed is lagging far behind.  The only thing that is growing well is garlic, whereas in the ‘western’ bed, everything is at least 3 times the size of the local bed one month after planting. Now, it maybe that the slower growth will lead to a longer growing season, who knows – we’ll report back in a few months.

The third bed also has our compost and a frame for  growing vertically.   We planted runner beans, French beans, pumpkins, butternut squash,  and sweet potato vines. All of the beans have died, both transplants and seeds sown directly into the ground. I’ve replanted time and again and they all die at about 12 inches tall 😦  I’ve decided to give up trying as it’s obviously too dry for them and have now been replaced with cucumbers and honeydew melons, which are just about an inch tall so far, so you can’t really see them in the photo. We’ll update on progress.